Commenting on Craft: Part Seven

Seriously, this has been happening for a long time.

Is it cold in here? Maybe it’s just a draft… the first draft of my thesis. (Someone please make me stop.) It’s good as a draft but it sucks as a paper, so I’m going to have to do a lot of revising. Luckily, today’s installment of the Craft series deals with the sticky, slippery slope of revision.

When you have a draft and systematically revise top-down, from global structures to words, you are more likely to read as your readers will than if you start at the bottom, with words and sentences, and work up.

Once upon a time I was the editor of my high school newspaper. Because of that, I’m accustomed to copy editing—that start-at-the-bottom approach. This quote is helpful to me because it breaks me out of that habit and forces me to see my revisions in a new light, hopefully leading to an overall higher efficacy of my edits.

Each paragraph should have a sentence or more introducing it, with the key concepts that the rest of the paragraph develops.

I’m not sure if I do this or not, so I have to consider it carefully when I begin my revisions. I’m good at creating an overall structure (I’m a huge fan of headings), but when it comes to paragraph structure, I stop paying attention. Now’s a good time to start.

When Booth was in graduate school, his bibliography class was told to copy a poem exactly as written. Not one student in the class of twenty did so perfectly. His professor said he had assigned that task to hundreds of students, and perfect copies had been made by just three.

This is both terrifying and awesome—terrifying in that it’s so easy to make mistakes but awesome that everyone, then, makes them. While thinking globally is essential in making a coherent and relevant paper, care has to be taken with the details as well. I’m going to go over my quotations and make sure they’ve been copied correctly because, although I might not be great at math, three out of a few hundred are abysmal odds.

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Editing and Editing

Yesterday I did an editing marathon. The editor I’m working with sent back a marked up draft of my novel, and I spent at least eight hours–six of them consecutive–going over the comments and trying to make things flow better. You know what I realized? Editing your own work is HARD. You see things a certain way when you write them, so you automatically assume that others will see your vision the same way you do. A lot of the time, they don’t.

BUT… that’s why editors exist and why it’s so important for writers to trust them. It’s hard because your writing is so often a reflection of you, your views, and your passion. It’s ridiculously difficult to extract yourself from that, but when you do, it makes the process so much easier. I’ve been trying to do that, and for the most part I’m hoping I’ve been successful. We’ll see when I get the next round of edits. Either way, it just feels good to be transforming this story into something better and better. It deserves that.

I might be a little loopy from staring at a computer screen for so long. I should probably go do real people things like… oh, God, what do real people do?

Behold!

It’s interesting how much things can change in a short span of time. Instead of floundering around with dwindling confidence, writing query after query, I started looking into freelance editors. I happened upon The Independent Editors Group, browsed the editors’ bios, and fell in love with one editor, Paul Dinas, who has worked extensively on young adult fiction. So, at 12:30 AM, I sent him a query.

By 7:30 this morning, he had already responded, with a great deal of enthusiasm, to the synopsis I had sent. He’s backed up on projects right now so he won’t be able to read the manuscript until November, with sights at working on the project in December, but that gives me just enough time to smooth out some more kinks before sending him something I feel reflects my best work.

In the interim, I’ve decided to look into Bri Bruce, who is great on her own but in combination with Paul Dinas, I think I’d have a dynamite team of eyes looking this thing over and crafting it into something delicious. Hopefully Ms. Bruce and I can gut this thing and make it sing before I send it off to Mr. Dinas. I am much more excited and optimistic now that I have some professional help… I just hope I don’t go broke.

But, hey, that’s what being a writer is all about, right?